Thursday, 14 November 2019

Discover your inner dope fiend on a new tour

Visitors to Los Angeles keen to get up close and personal with the city's legal week trade are being invited to discover their inner dope fiend.
Starline Tours has announced a new tour rolling (see what they did there) around Los Angeles in partnership with HERBARIUM, the only marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles with a grow room on display and a glass-blowing demonstration for smoking accessories and collectibles. 
The new Hollywood 420 Celebrity Tour will include a compact tour of Hollywood celebrity homes along with celebrity-spotting locations and then a full experience at HERBARIUM.

The HERBARIUM experience will feature a 20-minute demonstration in the ancient art of glass blowing, a special viewing window into the world of marijuana growing in HERBARIUM's curated indoor cultivation facility, an introduction to cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and marijuana products for both recreational and medicinal use, along with a goodie bag. 
Beginning December 1, the two-hour tour will operate daily with the first tour departing Orange Court at Hollywood & Highland at 9:30am and continuing throughout the day with the last tour departing at 4pm.
The introductory price for the new tour is $79 and available online at
The dispensary, well-known among many entertainment industry figures, is a common location to spot A-list celebrities visiting the store. 
Many Hollywood stars embrace the benefits of CBD and marijuana use. 
The location's exterior wall is quickly becoming one of the latest Los Angeles Instagram backgrounds—a lush, green mural of healthy marijuana plants in a natural setting custom painted on site by artist David Sanner (the tour includes time for selfies).
Tour participants must show a valid ID to prove legal age to enter the HERBARIUM portion of the tour. Ingesting edible products is allowed on the tour. Smoking and vaping are prohibited.

A Bangkok hotel with a very different focus

Bangkok is a party town. And many of the people visiting the Sukhumvit district have some serious liquid socialising in mind. 

One hotel, however, wants visitors to focus on their well being rather than visiting pubs and clubs. 

The 235-room and suites Well Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 is offering guests a $378 three-day, two-night Being Well holiday season package for two.

Focused on well-being, the offer includes a 60-minute wellness activity with a choice of aromatherapy massage, ancient Thai massage, Muay Thai class or a personal fitness training session. 

Also included in the package are a daily buffet breakfast, complimentary in-room minibar, 15% discount on the standard menu at Well Spa, 35% discount on food on a la carte menu at Eat Well CafĂ©, complimentary access to Well Fitness, outdoor salted water swimming and group exercise classes, and a special rate on extended nights. 

The deal is available from now until March 31, 2020, with a supplement of $24 net per night applied for stays between December 25, 2019, and January 10, 2020.

More than half a million Australians visit Bangkok each year for holidays and business - and many have their personal favourite hotels. 

The Well Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 aims to attract visitors looking to maintain healthy lifestyles in a city that never sleeps. 

All executive suites and rooms are equipped with an exercise bike, yoga and pilates equipment. Guests can also join the free group exercise classes daily. 

The hotel is located in central Sukhumvit with all its restaurants and bars, clubs, retail malls, food markets, tailors and shops. 

It is within  easy walking distance from the BTS Skytrain (Asok), MRT Subway (Sukhumvit), Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre and several luxury malls. 

Nearby Benjakiti Park is one of Bangkok’s most popular parks offering space for joggers, walkers and cyclists.  

Well has apparently been open for three years - I'll be checking it out on my next visit. 

For details see

Discover a permanent new food festival in Melbourne

Melbourne is set to welcome a permanent festival of food - with the desperately dull name of Grazeland.

To be located next to Scienceworks in Spotswood, west of the CBD, Grazeland aims to pay homage to the city's diverse food scene. 

The precinct, at present a barren industrial site, will offer a casual dining experience by bringing together a diversity of local producers, live entertainers, and consumers.

Spanning across 10,000sqm, Grazeland will host over 50 sweet and savoury food vendors, three fully licensed bars, artisan stalls selling locally designed products, roving entertainers and live performances, creating a food festival experience.

“Given Melbourne’s amazing culinary scene, there is no better city to introduce a permanent festival of food," says says John Forman, the Grzeland managing director. "Grazeland will bring together the multicultural tastes that Melbourne is known for in one location, giving everyone the chance to discover a world of new flavours.” 

The new destination will be open every Friday-Saturday-Sunday of the year with outdoor seating to make the most of the warm summer days and cover for the rainier ones. I hope they've got a few braziers on order as we all know how cold Melbourne can be in winter. 

Designed by Push Projects with Phil Bucknell of Milieu Projects, the festival park will incorporate a series of themed spaces as varied as the food offerings themselves.

March is proposed opening date.   

For more information visit

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Perth puts on the Ritz with new hotel opening

One of Australia's most anticipated new hotels, the Ritz-Carlton, will open its doors at Perth's Elizabeth Quay on Friday. 

The new luxury hotel will offer 205 rooms, including 18 suites and the 277 sq m Ritz-Carlton Suite, featuring an outdoor balcony. 

The signature restaurant Hearth, led by well-known West Australian chef Jed Gerrard, will showcase produce from the state's farmers, fishermen, artisans and winemakers; embracing the traditional skill of cooking over fire to deliver a seasonal menu. 

Songbird, the rooftop bar, will serve up cocktails and small dishes and feature views of the city and Swan River. 

Wellness is a focus of the Ritz-Carlton Spa (well it would be a big surprise if it wasn't, you may say), which features four treatment rooms, saunas, fitness centre, a private yoga studio, his and hers outdoor heated vitality pools and a heated outdoor infinity pool overlooking the CDB and river. 

The hotel will also offer meeting and events spaces – including the Elizabeth Quay Ballroom.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Glamour hotel for suburban Melbourne

When I think of Avani properties, I tend to consider chic, designer resorts like the one overlooking the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.

When I think of Box Hill, my mind guides to me a Melbourne suburb with a lot of high-rise buildings 14km from the the CBD. A lot of trams seem to go there. 

Avani and Box Hill would seem an unlikely combination but Avani Hotels and Resorts is now welcoming guests to a newly developed hotel property located in what it describes as "the bustling, up-and-coming suburb of Box Hill". 

Avani Melbourne Box Hill Residences launched is located close to Box Hill's shopping and food precinct, Station Street, known for its wide range of Asian eateries.

With 75 one- and two-bedroom suites featuring chef-style kitchens, the hotel facilities include a heated roof-top infinity pool, spa and an on-site gym and sauna. 

A rooftop entertaining space is available for private guest bookings, including an outdoor barbecue and fire-pit, and a full open-plan kitchen with views of the Melbourne city skyline, Dandenong Ranges and Box Hill Gardens.

It is being spruiked as "the ideal base for both business and leisure travellers" - which may be just a little optimistic. 

Avani currently operates 27 hotels and resorts in 19 countries. It is part of the Thailand-based hospitality chain Minor Hotels. 

The brand recently debuted in Cambodia, South Korea, and Bali. It also has 15 new hotels in the pipeline, including upcoming properties in Malaysia, the UAE, and Myanmar.

Rates at Avani Box Hill Residences start from $150, so what you might lose in convenience you can save in cold, hard cash. 

Guests can contact Avani Melbourne Box Hill Residences on 1300 176 911 or email

Monday, 11 November 2019

New look and new name for longtime Queensland favourite

Farewell Novotel Twin Waters, hello Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort.

One of Queensland's longtime favourite holiday destinations has launched a new era with a new-look lobby, bar and a new name.

“Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort better reflects the property's evolution, and aligns the resort with the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre, which opened earlier this year,” said Accor's Vice President Operations QLD/NT, Matt Young.

“We believe that it's a more progressive and appropriate name given that we are located in a destination being profiled on the international stage now more than ever before.”

A $2 million refurbishment has breathed new life into the complex.

Since opening in 1990, the resort has been well known for its grand entrance with high atrium ceilings and the transformation has paid homage to the history of the building while introducing its new look.

Accor is a world-leading hospitality group with over 4,800 hotels, resorts, and residences across 100 countries.

The one book every wine lover needs in their library

Combine the expertise of veteran wine writing duo Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson with that of experts from around the world, add fascinating maps and facts and you have the reference book that every wine lover needs to own.

The first edition of the World Atlas of Wine was published in 1971 and has since sold over 4.7 million copies in 14 languages.

This is the completely revised eighth edition that is bang up to date with a record 416 pages and 230 maps. It is a reference masterpiece.

There us a new design, including easily-digestible summaries and leader lines to points of interest on the maps. 

There are new sections on climate change, and financial aspects of wine and pages devoted to St Helena, British Columbia, Uruguay, Brazil, Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus. 

I know that I will be consulting this book more than any other in my wine library. 

The World Atlas of Wine, 8th edition, is published by Hachette Australia. $85 Hardback.